Saturday, October 20, 2012

Making Decisions

Making decisions is not my forte.  I'm fairly indecisive... not because I don't have a preference or an opinion...I have plenty of those.  I'm indecisive because I'm afraid of criticism. I'm afraid of making someone unhappy with the choices I've made, thus making them unhappy with me.  I'm like this because I, myself, am an extremely critical person. I walk into a room and immediately notice all the things wrong in the room.  While most people can see this as a downfall... and I would agree, I have learned that God can take any negative character trait and use it for His good.  And so, although I am a critical person, that same criticism in the hands of God makes me someone who is pretty darn good at surmising a situation, predicting the potential pitfalls, and ultimately avoiding a lot of anguish.

So how does an indecisive, critical person turn into a decisive, discerning  person?  Only through Christ.

First, being in God's Word, I started understanding the sin in my own thoughts.  I also began to replace those thoughts with the Truth I found in Scripture.

Here's an example of a real situation:

Every time I went into the bathroom and saw that the toilet paper roll sat empty and hadn't been changed, or that it had been put on backwards... my blood would boil.  I mean, seriously, HOW HARD IS IT??  See the "righteous" anger here?  :::she said dripping with sarcasm:::  Now, to be fair, this is a common, familial problem.  So common, that we laugh about it often in conversations... comedians use it in their routines and sitcoms have capitalized on this annoying scenario.  But I'm no comedian, and I don't live in a sitcom, and the effect that this annoyance was having on me was severe and in no way funny.  I would steam with indignation and anger.  It became a personal attack against ME.  (tip: anytime you become the center of your thoughts, you are more than likely in the wrong).

And then I heard something.  I mean like "those who have ears to hear, let them hear" kind of hearing.  Through a mother's class I was attending, I heard that I was wrong.  I heard that I was hurting the relationships I had with the members of my family.  I heard that I was selfish and quick to anger.  I heard that I wasn't loving my family as God had called me to love them.  I repented.  I asked for help in my thoughts... and I made a decision.**

I made a decision that the next time, and every time after, when the toilet paper roll went unchanged and I noticed it... because I ALWAYS noticed it,  I would view that as a reminder to pray for each member of my family.  Right there, right then.  I made the decision to replace my selfish anger with a selfless act.  At first the prayers were mumbled through tightened teeth... but as I continued in my practice, I found that I actually smiled... like God and I had an inside joke.  Eventually, the anger was gone.  I saw this as nothing less than a miracle.  A miracle of God's grace to me.

I started making other "decisions".
I now pray for each family member as I wash, fold, and iron their clothes.
I thank God for dirty dishes sitting in the sink that represent the health of my children (this continues to be a particularly difficult one for me).

It branched towards others outside of my family.
I decided to slow down my reactions to offensive things people said or did.
I substitute my criticism for reflection and in doing this, I find I am less inwardly focused and more able to see the needs someone else might have.

While I believe my critical eye should always be submissive to God's requests of love and service to my neighbor, I have learned that God can actually take that which has been tainted by sin and restore it to be a benefit to me and those I serve. I'm not just behaving in a less critical manner.  He has made me less critical.

Through our faith in Christ, our "old Adam" is buried. 
And through our faith in Christ our "new Adam" is brought to life.
This is how criticism can become discernment.

Slowly, and not without setbacks, I have become someone who makes decisions... sometimes. ;)

 **When I say that "I made the decision", I mean it only in the sense that farmers "grow" crops.  Truly it is the design of the seed by God that actually causes a plant to grow.  The farmer waters and cares for the crop, but it is still God's work that produces fruit. So, I may move my mouth in prayer, or close it so nothing rude comes out, but it is God who grants the results of peace, patience, goodness, etc. (Just wanted to be clear on that). 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Carolina Crochet Project

One thing that happens when you have kids who are enrolled in online classes... you get the opportunity to meet and become friends with some of the most outstanding people.  In the last five years that my kids have been "attending" Veritas Press, we have literally sent our daughter across the country to meet up with her school friends.  Minnesota, Idaho, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina... the list goes on.

This past summer, Emily was blessed with a trip to Greenville, SC, where she got to see several friends who live in the area.  It is because of this trip that I made this afghan.  I should state... this was my first afghan and I am pretty dern proud of how it turned out!

The stitch is a basket weave that I took from a baby blanket pattern on Basket Weave Baby Blanket Pattern What I didn't know was how substantial the basket weave is.  This blanket will keep the most chill-prone person toasty warm!  It  devoured yarn at an alarming rate and consequently is quite heavy.  The pattern of stripes was chosen purely from my personal aesthetic preference.  I am not a fan of the zigzag 70's afghan nor the skimpy stripes.  I love the color combination and although the colors might suggest a Christmas theme, I think it could be used anytime. 
When changing colors, I stitched an initial row of double crochets across with the new color.  Basically using that last row of the previous color as my "initial chain" and continuing at the beginning of the ravelry pattern.  The green has ten completed basket weaves (20 rows) plus the initial row of dc making the total 21 rows.  Each of the other colors only has 9 completed basket weaves (18 rows) plus the initial dc row making it 19 rows total.  The color pattern went: green, white, red, green, red, white, green.  
The border, I agonized over.  While I wanted to try a different stitch with more of a scalloped edge... I decided that it wouldn't be consistent with the strong presence of the stripes and weave.  In other words, the scalloped edging would be too frilly for the manly stripes. Instead, I went with a simple single crocheted border.  Three rows of sc with the second and third rows stitched only in the back loop to give a little ridge look.  I crocheted three sc in each of the corners as well.  

So this Carolina Crochet Project is my family's thank you to the family who made Emily's trip possible, and so wonderfully memorable.  Thank you! I hope you enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed making it.

~The Pools
Here is the afghan in its new home :)
Looks like it was meant to be there.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Homemade Seed Packets

I do love my garden, and as the growing season for flowers is coming to an end, I am already planning what I'd like to begin with next spring.  I know, it is a sickness ;)

One thing I know I want to do is store all those seeds I have been collecting in something better than the little plastic containers that they are currently in.

It started with my columbines... boy howdy, can those produce some seeds.  And while I love them, I don't want them to reseed everywhere.  I'd like to manage them a little better and even be able to give a few seeds away on occasion.

Then there are the seeds from my poppies, hollyhocks, and forget-me-nots.  Right now, I am collecting seeds from the cleome that are blooming.  In fact the cleome are the reason I went on a search for something in which to send seeds through the mail.

I stayed with a family in Idaho during a recent trip to visit a college with my daughter, and I shared a love for gardening with the lady of the house.  She had never heard of cleome, and so as a thank you, I wanted to send her some seeds from my own garden so that not only would she have the flower, but a reminder of our new friendship as well.  ...But how to send her the seeds?  If only I had a little seed pouch...

And that is how I came to find this little gem.  It is a printable seed packet design.

How cute are these??

I found the site through pinterest and there were several to choose from. This just happened to be my favorite because of it's simplicity.

You can print them on regular printer paper.  I also printed some out on scrapbook paper.

Cut them out and fold the two tabs in.  I used a glue stick on the tabs, then folded in the back of the packet.  Be sure to write on it before you put the seeds in ;)  A little glue goes on the opening tab and then seal it shut.

Now I have a wonderful way to not only store my seeds, but to share them with others. :)